Our New Age of Contempt

Contribution by Karen Stohr in the New York Times
24 January, 2017

“Contempt is frequently overt, but it can also be very subtle. Sometimes it hides itself under superficially polite language and behavior, with the real meaning recognizable only to its targets. Often it is put forward as merely good-natured fun or, in the parlance of 2016, “locker room” talk. It is troublingly easy for contempt to cover its tracks. It is also troublingly easy for listeners to take up another’s contempt without realizing it. This is particularly true when contempt is expressed as mockery.

When Trump mocked the physical appearance of the New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, even his most fervent supporters struggled to come up with plausible defense of their candidate. Finding themselves unable to defend imitating a person’s disability, they were reduced to attempting to argue that Trump was not actually imitating Kovaleski at all. The public was largely unconvinced. We know contempt when we see it.”

Migrants frequently experience contempt in their daily life and have little opportunity to respond to it in any meaningful way: they often duck and move on.

To read the full contribution of Karen Stohr in the NY Times, please click here

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